Alaska: More wildlife welfare

The National Park Service wants to ban recreational hunters from baiting black bears with donuts and shooting searchlights at wintering bears and cubs in their dens in some public areas in Alaska — techniques allowed by the Trump administration but allowed by conservationists to be considered inhuman.

A new rule proposed by the US government would also prohibit amateur hunters from entering wolf dens to kill young animals. In addition, trap hunting should be regulated.

The ones from National Park Service Rules proposed on Friday would essentially restore restrictions that existed during the Obama administration but were eroded under President Donald J. Trump.

Under the new rule, recreational hunters in Alaska’s wildlife sanctuaries would no longer be able to kill adult wolves and young in their burrows or use motor boats to hunt swimming caribou.

These and other methods condemned as cruel by animal rights activists were banned on state lands in 2015 but have been allowed on millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness since 2020. Agency officials said the new rule would restore consistency and protect the public.

“This proposal would reduce the risk of bears associating the food at the bait stations with humans and becoming accustomed to eating human-produced food, thereby jeopardizing public safety,” the National Park Service said in a statement.

Activists called this a victory for animal rights.

“We have long argued that our government must protect our nation’s prized wildlife and not work hand-in-hand with trophy hunters to sanction some of the most ruthless killing methods that target defenseless animals,” said Kitty Block, president of the Humane Society of the United States, in a statement.

Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, called the new rule “a victory for Alaska’s iconic wildlife species.”

“Baiting bears only to shoot them over a bunch of donuts is just wrong,” she said.

The Trump administration has prioritized expanding hunting rights to state lands. Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son, an avid hobby hunter, championed trophy hunting. In 2020, Safari Club International, which promotes big game hunting, auctioned a week-long “dream hunt” across Alaska with the President’s son as part of its annual convention.

Many pro-hunting advocates and Alaska state leaders have said they view the Obama-era restrictions as an encroachment on the state’s rights. Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, called the Biden administration’s plan a clear violation of federal law and described it as part of a war on the state.

The new rule is likely to continue an already protracted legal battle.

A coalition of conservation groups has sued the government over the Trump administration’s policies in 2020. The case is still pending.

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